A Russian Challenge

We have received the following and publish it in order to show the trickery resorted to by the pseudo-Socialists responsible for the London Conference in endeavouring to exploit the Russian Socialists , whose challenge they dare not face.


Comrades, – Your Conference calls itself a conference of the Socialist parties of the allied belligerent countries, Belgium, England, France and Russia.

Allow me first of all to draw your attention to the fact that the Social-Democracy of Russia, as an organised body, as represented by its Central Committee and affiliated to the International Socialist Bureau, has received no invitation from you. The Russian Social-Democracy, whose views have been expressed by the members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Group in the Duma, now arrested by the Tsar’s Government (Petrovsky, Muranoff, Badaoff, Samoiloff representing the workers of Petrograd, Yokaterinoslaff, Kharkoff, Kastroma and Vladimir districts) have nothing in common with your conference. We hope that you will state so publicly, as otherwise you may be accused of distorting the truth.

Now allow me to say a few words with regard to your conference, i.e., to tell you what the class-conscious Social-Democratic workers of Russia would expect from you.

We believe that before entering upon any deliberations with regard to the reconstruction of the International, before attempting to restore international bonds between Socialist workers, it is our Socialist duty to demand:

(1) That Vandervelde, Guesde and Sembat immediately leave the Belgian and French bourgeois ministries.

(2) That the Belgian and French Socialist parties break up the so-called “block national” which is a disgrace to the Socialist flag and under cover of which the bourgeoisie celebrates its orgies of chauvinism.

(3) That all Socialist parties cease their policies of ignoring the crimes of Russian Tsarism and renew their support of that struggle against Tsarism which is being carried on by the Russian workers in spite of all the sacrifices they have to make.

(4) That in fulfilment of the resolutions of the bale conference we hold out our hands to those revolutionary Social-Democrats of Germany and Austria who are prepared to carry on propaganda for revolutionary action as a reply to war. The voting for war credits must be condemned without any reserves.

The German and Austrian Social-Democrats have committed a monstrous crime against Socialism and the International by voting war credits and entering into domestic truce with the Junkers, the priests and the bourgeoisie, but the action of the Belgian and French Socialists has by no means been better. We fully understand the conditions are possible when Socialists as a minority have to submit to a bourgeois majority, but under no circumstances should Socialists cease to be Socialists or join in the chorus of bourgeois chauvinism, forsake the workers’ cause and enter bourgeois ministries.

The German and Austrian Social-Democrats are committing a great crime against Socialism when, after the example of the bourgeoisie they hypocritically assert that the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs are carrying on the war of liberation “against Tsarism.”

But those are committing a crime no less stupendous who assert that Tsarism is becoming democratised and civilized, who are passing over in silence the fact that Tsarism is strangling and ruining unhappy Galicia just as the German Kaiser is strangling and ruining Belgium, who keep silent about the facts that the Tsar’s gang has thrown into gaol the parliamentary representatives of the Russian working class, and only the other day condemned to six years penal servitude a member of Moscow workers for the only offence of belonging to our party, that Tsarism is now oppressing Finland worse than ever, that our Labour press and organisations in Russia are suppressed, that all the milliards necessary for the war are being wrung by the Tsar’s clique out of the poor workers and starving peasants.

On behalf of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party,
London, February 14th, 1915. M. MAXIMOVICH.*

* The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, also known as the Bolshevik Party, later changed its name to Communist Party.

(Later Note: “ M. Maximovich” who signed the statement is Maximovich Litvinoff, Commissar for Foreign Affairs 1930-1939).

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